The Washington Post

Poem by 13-year-old Charlotte Bronte could fetch $67,000

A tiny slip of paper containing a handwritten poem by 13-year-old Charlotte Bronte is expected to fetch as much as $67,000 when it goes to auction next month in London, according to the Telegraph.

The newspaper quotes a spokesman for the Bonhams auction house saying, “Poetical manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë are extremely rare – only two others have been sold at auction in 40 years or more.”

An (alleged) photo of Charlotte Bronte, discovered in the archives of London's National Portrait Gallery (AP) An (alleged) photo of Charlotte Bronte, discovered in the archives of London’s National Portrait Gallery (AP)

The poem, which begins, “I’ve been wandering in the greenwoods,” is dated Dec. 14, 1829. (Bronte died in 1855.) The auction house describes it as written on a 3-inch square piece of paper in handwriting that “cannot be read easily without a magnifying glass.”

Erik DuRon, a manager of Bauman Rare Books in New York, has not seen this particular manuscript, but he said by phone that “Brontes are extraordinarily popular. Such material comes on the market infrequently at best.”

Juvenilia, such as this poem by a famous author when she was just 13, is of particular interest to “collectors who focus on individual authors and go deep,” DuRon said. “In as much as first editions and manuscript material from any period bring us closer to the mind of the author, juvenilia has a special claim to bringing us that much closer to their psychology and their early development.”

The Bronte manuscript is part of a collection amassed over many decades by the poet and scholar Roy Davids. Bonhams claims it is “the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction.” The items will go on sale on April 10.


Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.



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